06 February 2012

Ridiculous is all the rage #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Fresh from her triumphant speech about co-operation and consultation as the way to develop the north, the potential for developing uranium in Labrador and  - of course – the glories to come from Muskrat Falls, Premier Kathy Dunderdale is off to Atlanta as part of an Atlantic provinces’ trade mission.

Regular readers will recall then-business minister Paul Oram’s insightful interview on Newfoundland and Labrador history during one of his trips to Georgia.

Yes, friends, this is not the first time people from this province have gone off to the southern United States to see if we could increase trade with the Americans.  It has been a popular destination.  Danny Williams took one of his last over-seas trips to Mississippi as part of one of the trade junkets.

As you can see from that post on Williams’ trip, the Americans are looking for people to come to their states, invest money and start creating jobs for their people. There could be no better time to talk to them about investing in our province and creating jobs here.


And if you wanted to find some place to sell stuff we make then surely there can be no better time to do that than when our largest trading partner  - the United States – is struggling to come out of a recession. 

Again, a bit obvious, but apparently not quite so obvious to some people.

In a province where even the finance minister said the economy was fragile,  the provincial government can’t quite seem to get the concept that looking for new markets might be a good idea.

Other people certainly get the point.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been talking about expanding trade with Asia and Europe.  In British Columbia, they’ve got a new natural gas strategy  - h/t to David Campbell in New Brunswick – that talks about developing natural gas as an export to places like Asia.

Meanwhile, in Newfoundland and Labrador, there’s no serious interest in finding new markets for stuff. A couple of years ago, the current provincial government refused to take part in trade talks with the Europeans.  The locals were more interested in the seal hunt than in creating jobs. Just last year, one local politician said it would be like doing a “back-room deal with a group of serial rapists”.

You can see the level they are working at.

As for natural gas, developing it for any practical use at all is about as popular an idea in government circles as a one cheek sneak sliding across the pews on Sunday morning.

Any talk of it as a means of generating electricity gets them raising the completely absurd idea of buying liquefied gas from somewhere else and importing. 

Too expensive, the government’s favourite economist clucked, to be a viable alternative to the favourite economist’s preferred project. He didn’t really even need to hold a match to his straw-man to watch it burst into flames.

And the local natural gas? 

Well, it’s just not possible.

Because, well, it just isn’t.

Never mind that you wouldn’t have to liquefy the stuff to bring it ashore.

Never mind that there is enough of it out there to power a 500 megawatt plant all day long, every day, all year long for a century.

Never mind that they could get it from one field today where it is getting costly to re-inject the gas they get during oil production. 

Never mind that the provincial government need take only as much gas as they needed to run a gas-to-electricity plant. 

Never mind they could put a price on it and take the gas as a partial credit for offshore royalties.

Never mind there’s likely tons of it onshore Newfoundland.  The same people pushing the very expensive electricity scheme actually found gas in 2011 in not one but two wells drilled at Parsons Pond. Nalcor shut down drilling on a proposed third well because they found gas, not the oil the company hoped for.  And, as CBC reported:

Vice-president Jim Keating said there is no need for a third well as it would likely produce the same result.

Same result being gas.


What could they possibly do with gas?

Sheesh!  <insert eye rolling>

The government crowd want to go with their Labrador project and that is really the end of it as far as they are concern.

It is a green project, you see.

Just don’t bother to notice that their “green” scheme includes building – wait for it – more oil-fired generation than the current plant they want to replace with the hydro one.

Not gas.


Yes, their argument is ridiculous, but then again, it’s no more ridiculous than giving up a market worth billions for new products in order to posture about a product almost no one wants any more.

Or heading off to the sort-of recessionary United States for the umpteenth year in a row to talk trade with people we already trade enough with.

Ridiculous, you see, is all the rage.

- srbp -